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Census: El Cajon Has Highest Poverty Rates In San Diego County

Evening Edition

Corinne Wilson, director of research and policy for the Center for Policy Initiatives in San Diego, and Marney Cox, SANDAG's chief economist, talk to KPBS about the newest data on income from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aired 9/20/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Corinne Wilson is in charge of research and policy for the Center for Policy Initiatives in San Diego.

Marney Cox is SANDAG's chief economist.


Total poverty and child poverty details for 2011 in San Diego County broken d...
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Above: Total poverty and child poverty details for 2011 in San Diego County broken down by city. Data compiled by the Center on Policy Initiatives from U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.

A new report finds San Diegans working in the region's biggest industries keep seeing their wages shrink.

The U.S. Census Bureau data released today offers a detailed look at income and poverty levels in San Diego. The Center on Policy Initiatives, a community advocacy group, analyzed the earnings figures. Their report, "Poverty, Earnings and Income in San Diego County 2011," shows spending power was down in 2011.

Corinne Wilson, director of research and policy for the Center for Policy Initiatives in San Diego, told KPBS people in San Diego can buy less with their paychecks than last year.

"So while we're working, we can't buy the same like we did last year," she said.

Wilson said the industry that pays the least in wages, the tourism industry, has had stagnant wage growth for the past five years.

The industry that employs the most people in San Diego, the health care and assistance industry, also had stagnant earnings, she said.

Marney Cox, SANDAG's chief economist, said the report shows a continuation of a trend that began in the late 1980s.

"We're seeing a lot more growth in low value-added, or low paying jobs," he said. "And we're seeing a lot less growth in either middle- or high-paying jobs."

Cox said we'd get a more complete picture of people living in poverty in San Diego County if the aid provided through programs like food stamps, housing assistance, and low-income health care were included in the data.

He said, "...we measure things using data in aggregate and assuming everybody acts the same. But when you're stressed, you don't act the same way. You go out and you make changes based upon the actions of the economy on you. And I think trying to figure out how people change their action is very important to try to figure out what programs or how to assist people who fall into that category."

He said twice as many people are finding low-paying jobs than middle- and high-paying jobs combined.

Cox said the number of people in poverty in San Diego did not significantly increase, but that number rose in California and across the country.

"So what was it about San Diego that was able to hold that number?" he said.

But Cox said the fact that San Diegans' income fell by 3 percent seemed like a lot.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 21, 2012 at 1:48 p.m. ― 4 years ago

El Cajon is one of the most conservative, Republican-leaning areas within in the county.

It also has the highest poverty rate.

But I thought Willard said the 47% of people struggling in this economy are free-loading Obama supporters who will never vote for him!?

Shucks, Willard R. - so sad when the facts get in the way of your pandering rants.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 21, 2012 at 1:55 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Mr. Cox's comments on this story are very troubling.

All I see in print and hear from his mouth are excuses and lame reasons why this statistic doesn't matter.

I'm not at all surprised coming from a SANDAG official.

SANDAG is, quite frankly, a politically-charged, anti-environmental, anti-mass transit, pro-big development danger to our community.

SANDAG is ruining our metropolitan area's future with their inept and racist city planning.

Yes, you read that correctly, SANDAG has an overtly RACIST planning agenda and I really wish someone in the media would call them out on it.

Look at all their planning - it's aimed at keeping rich and poor segregated, it's all about the assumption that only poor people want to take mass transit and only rich people want to drive.

Their planning has for decades been one in which San Diego's poor and minority communities are kept well-segregated from the wealthier communities, and their future plans look no different.

That is why I am not surprised that one of their hacks is trying to discount poverty statistics.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | September 21, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Way to go El Cajon! Keep voting against your own best economic self-interests. "Compassionate Conservatism" is just around the corner ...

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